Lidl heads pitch list in London’s media market where the talk is about how much rather than how good?

The world is awash with big media reviews – a dozen or so are taking place at the moment including the likes of Coca-Cola, P&G and Unilever (although theirs is seemingly endless – by the time it’s concluded the participants will probably be dead).

London hasd seen a fair few in recent months and a significant one is due for decision soon: Lidl. Lidl, along with its German rival Aldi, has keen kicking the innards out of the British supermarket giants and now it’s decided it needs a proper media operation on the case alongside creative agency TBWA. Among those awaiting the outcome of its musings are WPP’s Maxus, Initiative (which recently lost the massive Tesco account to WPP’s MediaCom) and one or other of the Publicis Groupe agencies.

Lidl, as far as we know, is prepared to pay the winning media agency some money. Er, don’t clients usually do that, you say. Well not in every case it seems. It’s not unusual for clients to strike media deals on the basis of barter, unloading unwanted stock to a media agency which then has to flog the stuff somewhere to pay the media bills.

As an extension of this, there’s even talk of a big UK media account that’s being handled ‘free’ for the first two years then paid for with loyalty points. Bizarre, but barter of a kind. We place free in inverted commas because, usually, in such instances it means ‘free’ from the client’s point of view with the agency making its money through those dreaded media rebates, the discovery of which is rattling so many US-based clients’ cages.

So the talk these days – in all big pitches – is as much about how much is paid and, even, when it’s paid (Heinz takes 97 days, others even longer). Clients are actually forcing media agencies to become media brokers (buying media themselves and selling it on) although they seem too dozy to see it – despite the serried ranks of media auditors and consultants on their payrolls.

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